HIST 315-01: War and Society-Classical Warfare and Literature. As we have seen in our readings and film excerpts for this unit, warfare in the Classical age of antiquity (circa. 1000 BCE to 417 CE) was a complex social and cultural interaction.

HIST 315-01: War and Society-Classical Warfare and Literature

HIST 315-01: War and Society
Assignment One
Classical Warfare and Literature
As we have seen in our readings and film excerpts for this unit, warfare in the Classical age of antiquity (circa. 1000 BCE to 417 CE) was a complex social and cultural interaction. Rooted in ritual, myth, and tradition, war fighting among the ancient Greeks and Romans also demonstrated a high capacity for organization, technology, and planning. Though both cultures would ultimately decline and fall, at their height, the collective city-states and kingdoms of Greece and Macedon and the Roman Republic and Empire established a course for Western culture that would survive to the present day.

At the same time as we acknowledge the influence of the classical age, we are faced with a vexing problem. As historians we rely upon heavily upon quantifiable sources that are rooted firmly in past events. Or the perceptions of specific individuals or groups. It is difficult however to account fully for the veracity of classic texts. Often based upon dim recollection and legend, colored by reference to supernatural forces, and not infrequently attributed to non-existent authors. Classical sources present unique challenges to the historian seeking to unlock the meaning of the past.

Yet while daunting, the task is by no means impossible.

In this exercise, you are challenge d to unlock the meaning of two different classical texts. From The Iliad, two books detailing the contest between Achilles and Hector before Troy; and from Julius Caesar’s Gallic War, a chapter presenting Caesar’s final campaign against the Gallic king Vercingetorix. In a minimum of 1,000 words, you will examine how these sources can be use d to gain a deeper understanding of the past.

An ideal assignment might be comprise d of three parts. First, a general discussion of the utility of classical sources and general details about these two specific texts. Second, a discussion of classical Greek warfare as understood by historians, compared with specific references from The Iliad, and a short analysis of how the classical text is or is not a valid historical document. Third, a similar analysis of Roman warfare using The Gallic War.

Throughout the assignment, you may use (indeed, I expect you to use) J.E. Lendon’s book, Soldiers and Ghosts, to support your argument. While you may refer to the film excerpts shown in class (300, Troy, and Gladiator). Additionally, you may NOT cite them as historical sources; rather, they can be use d as illustrative points in support of your arguments drawn from the reading of the three texts.

Finally, this assignment is due at the start of class. Standard formatting (Microsoft Word 2003 compatible, 1” margins, 12 point Times New Roman or Arial typeface, Double Spaced) is required.

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